EppsNet Archive: Programming

Teaching Computer Science: Asking for Help

I’m volunteering a couple mornings a week at a local high school, helping out with computer science classes. This morning, in AP Computer Science Principles, the teacher went through an explanation of the hexadecimal number system, then gave an in-class assignment for students to convert their cell phone number to hexadecimal. Not in two parts, 3 digits and 4 digits,… Read more →

Teaching Computer Science: It’s Not Easy to Teach a Subject in Which You Have No Training

A recent issue of Science has an article on the pipeline for computer science teachers . . . The first sentence says, “It’s not easy to teach a subject in which you have no training.” That could be the whole article, really. That’s about all you need to know about the current state of computer science instruction: It’s not easy… Read more →

More Words and Phrases I’m Sick Unto Death Of

Although I can’t claim never to have said these things myself, if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone say either a) “It was working fine 10 minutes ago,” or b) “It works okay on my machine,” I would be comfortably retired by now. Thus spoke The Programmer. Read more →

What Does a Programmer Do?

I was asked to give a talk last week to a high school computer science class on “What Does a Programmer Do?” (I’m indebted to Jim McCarthy for the “lords and ladies of logic” section.)   Programming is problem solving. At the highest level, the problem that programmers solve is that people want to be able to do things with… Read more →

I’m a Winner!

I’ve been doing the daily challenges at CodeFights for quite a while and yesterday’s challenge is the first time I got first place! (CodeFights ranks solutions by fewest number of characters, with solution time as the tiebreaker.) Read more →

AP Computer Science Revisited

I got a LinkedIn invitation today from a student I taught in an AP Computer Science class a couple of years ago. She’s now a computer science major at UCSB. Several of the kids from that class are now in college as computer science majors. Some of them would have been computer science majors anyway, without the class — they… Read more →

Learn to Code

I’m a programmer . . . Job searches for me go like this: I’m old, I have to compete with people half my age, but I’ve worked in Orange County since forever so I know some people, and I can write good code in interviews, which the majority of programmers who show up for interviews can’t. I was out of… Read more →

See You in Hell

[See You in Hell is a feature by our guest blogger, Satan — PE] Along with pleas for money, almost 100 percent of the cardboard signs I see being held by people on freeway off-ramps and the like include the phrase “God Bless You.” There seems to be a correlation between belief in God and begging for money on off-ramps.… Read more →

Programmer or Parolee?

Our office building is next door to a probation field office . . . I have a game I play in the parking lot each morning: Programmer or Parolee. I spot someone, guess if he’s here for a programming challenge or a meeting with his parole officer, then wait to see if he shows up in our office. If a… Read more →

Teaching Prisoners to Code: What Could Go Wrong?

What could go wrong here? Criminal minds + coding skills = ??? One of my favorite Mr. Boffo cartoons shows a gang of robbers in a bank in the Old West . . . one of the robbers says to another, “Someday this will all be done by computer.” What an inspiring program to solve a big and growing U.S.… Read more →

The Ceiling Seems Very Low

I don’t know if this is good news or bad news. It would help to know what “trains” means but I read the article and it doesn’t say. Reporters need to be more inquisitive. Can someone with no knowledge of computer science or programming be “trained” to teach computer science or programming? What would that entail? How long would it… Read more →

Hey Guys, I Wrote a Book!

It’s called Thus Spoke the Programmer: A Fictional Memoir. (Don’t be put off by the title if you’re not a programmer. It’s guaranteed to delight both technical and non-technical readers alike. 🙂 ) If you’re interested in having a look at it, you have a couple of options: Leanpub, a PWYW (pay what you want) platform, which means if you… Read more →

Teaching Computer Science: The Last Day

On the last day of class, I gave students the code for a partially working Space Invaders game, along with instructions for adding collision detection and completing the implementation. The instructions didn’t leave too much to the imagination because I wanted to give everyone a chance to finish out the year on a successful note. I estimated it to be… Read more →

Teaching Computer Science: Extra Credit

I wish I got a dollar for every time a student asks, “Can I get extra credit for [insert action for which it makes no sense to give extra credit]?” Today in class we did a difficult programming exercise. It wasn’t graded but I asked everyone to turn it in so I could evaluate the difficulty of the assignment. “Can… Read more →

Teaching Computer Science: Combating Procrastination

Students had a project due last week and I got a lot of messages and emails asking for help. Of course, when we handed out the assignment two months ago, we advised students not to wait till the last minute to work on it. Teachers and parents saying “Don’t wait till the last minute” is just an understood part of… Read more →

Teaching Computer Science: Pro Tips for Finishing a Project

For many (most?) students doing an object-oriented development project for the first time, this assignment is too difficult to do without a lot of guidance. Therefore: ask for help early and often. If you wait till the night before a checkpoint, you won’t have enough time to finish and we won’t have enough time to help you effectively. Therefore: ask… Read more →

Teaching Computer Science: Lessons Learned

We did a programming lab in class . . . before we started, I mentioned several times that Java code that would be useful for the lab was posted on the class website. So it surprised me that several groups got stuck during the lab when they got to the part where the sample code would have been useful because… Read more →

Teaching Computer Science: Collected Thoughts

If you recognize the person on this next slide, please raise your hand. Don’t yell out the name, just raise your hand. About two-thirds of you recognize Derek Jeter. I thought everyone would recognize him, but still a clear majority. I’m not a Yankees fan or a Derek Jeter fan particularly but the Captain and I are on the same… Read more →

60 Million Students

#HourOfCode had an incredible first year. Thank you to all who helped propel this movement. http://t.co/bHAAWMYJiG. pic.twitter.com/IS1nU89XRe — Code.org (@codeorg) December 29, 2014 Read more →

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